The role of scandal in Tuesday's elections

November 5, 2008 5:36:43 PM PST
Harris County Democrats certainly made scandal their rallying cry in local races, beating up on Republicans for real or perceived lapses in judgment. It appears to have worked on Democrats and Republicans, energizing some, and leaving Republican ballrooms empty last night.

"It did sway a lot of people," said Harris County Sheriff-elect Adrian Garcia. "At the end of the day, people want good government."

The whiff of scandal may've left a smell on more than just Tommy Thomas. Political experts suggest it may be one reason C.O. Bradford lost the DA's race, with voters possible recalling some of HPD's tough time when Bradford was chief.

And it may've played a role in Ed Emmett's lonely Republican win. Remember he was one the first visible Republicans to speak out against Republican scandal.

But scandal is not the only story from Tuesday night's election. Democrats have been working for years to make Tuesday night a reality.

"The key to this year is that we did organize," said State Senator Rodney Ellis. "In the past, we had very little organization at all."

This year, for the first time in 14 years, Democrats competed for every race. In 2004, Democrats didn't even put candidates up for 15 of the judge races they won this year.

And this year, Harris County Democrats had cash -- an estimated $23 million to spend locally getting their vote out, using it to push early voters to select the straight ticket.

It worked. By the time polls opened Tuesday, Democrats had a 61,000 vote advantage from the early votes, or a 7 point lead.

Four years ago, Republicans had a 7 point lead in straight ticket voting. This year, they seemed to abandon it, choosing to select individual candidatesand punishing especially the sheriff who was at best tainted by the allegations.

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